Ramstein, Germany: A Home to Many Americans

Let’s talk about Ramstein and no, and I don’t mean the band.  Ramstein Air Base is an American NATO support installation established 61 years ago on June 1, 1953, in the southwest corner of Germany. It is located in the state of Rheinland-Pfalz and is surrounded by the towns of Miensenbach, Landstuhl and the nearby metropolitan city Kaiserslautern. (Fun fact: Rammstein the band got their name by adding an extra “m” to “Ramstein” to honor a crash that happened during an American Air Force flight show there.)

1988 Air Force Flight Show Crash

1988 Air Force Flight Show Crash

Ramstein is home to the largest community of Americans living outside of the United States, housing 34,000 Americans. Each year, thousands arrive at Ramstein to live for the duration of their European military assignments, and many military members stop over in Ramstein, the military hub of Europe, before deploying to places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa or on their way back to America from remote locations.

maxinereyesusa said, “After stopping in Germany! Greenery over desert! :-), Qatar was beautiful though! #ramstein #germany#homebound #usa”

Although some people may be hesitant to leave America or to relocate their family or household, Ramstein Air Base is definitely a place where an American would enjoy living and experiencing European culture and travel.  Ramstein is constantly changing  but there are always attractions that seem to stick around!

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Riviera Eisdiele

Hands down the best ice cream parlor in Ramstein is “Riviera.”  It was my favorite place to visit while growing up in Ramstein.  It has the friendliest atmosphere and easily said to be the best ice cream in town. Landstuhler Strasse 25, 66877, Ramstein Meisenbach

Landstuhl Kriegerdankmal is a war memorial built in 1934 to honor 121 Landstuhl citizens who died in World War I. Kaiserstrasse, 66849 Landstuhl

The Pflaz Wald Nature Park is a very large wooded area perfect for bike rides and walks.  There are are so many scenic trail  variations in the park. People have been enjoying the area since 1982 – 32 years!

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Pflaz Wald Nature Park

Another great attraction that everyone loves in the summer is the “Azur Swimmbad,” the pool! It was built in 1998  and hasn’t aged a bit.  Every summer my friends and I would go to this pool! This big pool has indoor and outdoor facilities along with diving boards and slides.  It has an outdoor hot tub leading from the inside to outside and lots of space surrounding the pool for families to lay out and enjoy the day. Shear Straße 50 66877 Ramstein

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Azur Swimmbad

Lastly, you can’t end without talking about the oldest building, Ramstein Meisenbach‘s City Hall or “Rathaus.” The city hall, which was built in 1750, was once a brewery! But now it contains tourist information along with the “Museum im Westrich“, which has local history and art, including a statue of St. Nepomuk, a Catholic figure.

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Ramstein’s City Hall

Overall, Ramstein is very family-oriented and most Germans around Ramstein speak English and are very helpful and welcoming. Even though it is not a large city and does not have the large ancient castles an American might associate with Germany, it is very valuable to Americans who are fighting for our freedom.

Under Ramstein’s Facebook page Lisa wanted to give her input on living in Germany. 

ramstein_dapdLisa Dunham, “Traveling around Europe, the castles, Oktoberfest, autobahns, the cleanliness, the sincerity of the people, döners, their punctuality, the breads & pastries, the wine & beer (and how inexpensive good wine and beer is!!), how there is ALWAYS a festival for everything and anything, the fact that they recycle and love the environment, how incredibly helpful Germans are, our landlord & his family, that they use dinner as a time to socialize not to scarf their food down and run, that meals are cooked fresh, that the simple pleasures are what matter most, Bavaria, the Weihnachtmärkte, Audi/BMW/VW/Mercedes, their healthcare system, that art is displayed EVERYwhere, that their crime rates are lower overall, and that their groceries are good…organic is not a trend, it’s the way they live normally….and that most everyone loves plants & gardens!!”

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Please feel free to share your personal experience with others being stationed in Ramstein, Germany now and in the future.

What Can’t You Live Without?… “Friendship”

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“Friendship” is a movie about two German friends flying to America and their adventure from New York to San Francisco.  Now, if you don’t know German it can be very hard to follow along because the entire movie is in German, but overall, the movie is really funny and entertaining.

The DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik)

The Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the DDR (East Germany) and West Germany reunited in 1990. After about 10 years movies started coming out that reflected on the time before the Berlin wall fell and how East Germans lived. I’m estimating that this movie, which came out in 2009, was based on the time period of March 1990. Although it was made over ten years after the Berlin Wall fell, it reflects back on the reunification of Germany in a humorous way.  A couple German words that describe this context are “Ostagie” and “Nostalgie”, or feelings of nostalgia for life as it was in the DDR.

The movie is really funny and to an American audience who wouldn’t know much about Germany’s history it would still be a funny Friendship-Szenenbild-1movie, but it also includes key references that reflect on old traditions of East Germany that an American might miss.

The movie critiques the socialist structure of the DDR, including the concept of “Alle gleich”, or “all equal”. While the main characters, Tom and Veit, are growing up in East Germany there is a scene where Tom describes everything as “Alle gleich.” Tom and Veit hate the Stasi, the East German secret police, because they are freelancers and don’t like the rules in East Germany.  The scenes depicting their childhood show a lot of uniformity and oppression in a socialist society.

There are of course critiques of capitalism when they go to America. There is a homeless man in the first place they land in New York.  In East Germany you wouldn’t see homeless people because of its social security structure. Another critique of capitalism is when Tom has a toothache and can barely afford to get it fixed.  In this scene Tom is frustrated because he says that everything costs money here and it is hard to live.  In East Germany he wouldn’t have had the issue of barely being able to afford to get his teeth fixed. Another obvious critique of Americans is that they are portrayed as ignorant.  There are many characters who were made to exemplify ignorance, including the mayor, the police, and the Tennessee sisters.

Review

I feel as though this movie shows true friendship because of the way the movie ended.  Tom follows Veit through thick and thin, living on the streets of America with barely any money. I also really liked the small details that reflect critiques of socialism vs. capitalism throughout the movie. According to the German review site Movie Pilot, critics gave this movie a 6.5 and I would agree with that, because while it is very funny, it is not the best movie ever made.  The ending is very unexpected, but I think it would have been a lot more entertaining if Veit had meet his father. I think Fibel’s comment on Movie Pilot sums the movie up well: “Das ist Kunst! Kinokunst!”

The Official Website of the movie”Friendship”

The Blend of Cultural Ideas in “Die Fremde”

I watched Die Fremde, (“When We Leave”) at University of Missouri’s Department of German and Russian  Studies “Germany in Europe” Campus Weeks Film Series. The film draws on a recent issue in Germany where Turkish immigrants have been committing “honor killings“; a story that recently gained a lot of press was that of Hatun Sürücü, a women who was honor killed by her brother on a street in Berlin. In Die Fremde, the director Feo Aladag, advocates for women to have the right to leave their husbands or to fight for the life they want.  She is highly involved with stopping violence against women. In this clip, Feo Aladag gives her reason for how this movie got started.

In an article about the film, The LA Times writes about some further points of the director.

“Pakistan has the highest rate of honor killings in the world, Aladag said. “I don’t know the overall number, but there is one province where each year an average of 268 women are killed,” she said. “The problem is that many women in many countries are not registered, so if they disappear…. and it stays within the family or it is covered up as a suicide [there’s no way to track what actually happened]. Under [some Islamic laws] it is not a crime.” LA Times

The Plot of Die Fremde

Umay is a woman who grew up in a Turkish family that lived in Berlin.  Her Turkish parents arranged her marriage and she had a son with her husband in Istanbul.  Her husband abuses and rapes her and abuses her son.  She flees for Germany for freedom.

Umay leaves istanbul with Cem.

Umay leaves istanbul with Cem.

Once she reaches Germany with her son she wants to stay with her family in Berlin.  When they find out she left her husband for good they try to force her to go back and she rejects it.  It is her duty to be a wife and listen to her husband.  Once they realize she won’t go back they try to steal Cem her son and bring him back to Istanbul.  Umay calls German police to escort her to a safe house in Berlin.  Umay in this stage is working and met a German man.

Her brothers find where she lives and create havoc for the safe house. They say she has ruined the family name and embarrassed their family.  She then leaves the safe house and lives in the real world with her son.  Umay’s mother meets with her to tell her to go back to Istanbul or she will have to disown her.  Umay denies ever going back and her family pretends she is dead to them.  Umay shows up at her sister’s marriage and

Umay is dead in her family's eyes.

Umay is dead in her family’s eyes.

the family is furious and has the youngest son take her outside while the rest of the family ignores her.

Umay breaks up with her German boyfriend because she only cares for the bettering of her son Cem.  Umay’s father decides to tell Umay’s two brothers to kill her for good called “honor killing.” To protect the family’s honor.  Once her father decides that the next morning he has a heart attack.  Umay then visits him in the hospital and he tells her to forgive him and to leave. Her mother doesn’t say a word to her.  She does so and leaves the hospital.  While walking on the street outside of the hospital her youngest brother asks her if he can walk with them and then pulls a gun on them.  He drops it and then runs for the bus.  The older brother is behind her as she looks at the youngest brother running off.  Cem says her brothers name Umay turns toward him with Cem in her arms and he accidentally stabs Cem instead of Umay.

Theme of Die Fremde

Die Fremde shows the pressure of family reputation in society and the purpose of self-fulfillment clashing.  The image of families in society have a certain idea or image that must be met and fulfilled.  Sometimes family members don’t want the same image or purpose and how they idealize or prioritize things affect each other’s lives.

Another idea is the women in patriarchal societies. Umay is forced to listen to her father and husband who both want tradition and respect to the patriarchal society more than her own needs.  Some women feel neglected, abused and alone in these types of relationships other women like Umay’s mother accept the traditional  patriarchal lifestyle. 

And the influence of two cultures on a person. This movie shows the cultural adjustment in Europe.  It shows the clashing of the Germany and Turkish values. The movie shows the integration in Germany and shows a step forward from its past.

Why It Ended the Way It Did

It ended the way it did to make a point.  I think it ended the way it did because the concerns on how she was living her life were innocent like that of her son and it shouldn’t have mattered how she lived.  I feel as though everyone wanted Cem to have the best life whether it was under the family tradition with his dad or the German culture of his mom.  The reason why she left was for herself and Cem and now that Cem is dead she has nothing to live for and it’s worse than killing her. It is the worst crime to kill a child and it shows a change in reality. When Cem dies it shows the cardinal sin, a child represents the future and life.

Reviews

According to Rotten Tomatoes 81% of the audience likes the movie and I would have to agree if not give it a higher rating.  It’s relevant to it’s time and shows an international view.  I liked it because it’s about a topic that I wouldn’t have known about and it shows Germany and its European ideas mixing with Middle Eastern ideas. MetaCritic  gave it a rating of 65 and I feel as though this rating is too low for this movie.  I did like a critics comment about the movie Ty Burr from the Boston Globe said, “As powerful as the movie is, it stays on the outside of a culture looking in.”

Another Person Taking a Stand like Feo Aladag…

A German Turkish Rapper, Eko Fresh Ehrenmid, Koln kalk

German Cooking for the American Woman: Schnitzel

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Ingredients:

2 Large Eggs

Flour

Plain Freadcrumbs

Thin Cut Pork

Salt and Pepper

Directions:

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First wash the thin cut pork.

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Then take serran wrap and fold it over the pork.

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Take a meat tenderizer and pound the meat.

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Once the meat is tenderized take the flour and put some in a bowl, take the 2 eggs and put them in another bowl, and then put the plain bread crumbs and salt and pepper in another bowl.

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Drop the pork into the flour and put a nice even coating on both sides.

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Drop the flour covered pork and drop it in the egg.

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Now take the flour and egg covered pork and drop it into the bowl of plain bread crumbs

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This is what the pork should look like after this process.

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Keep the pork covered in the fridge until it is ready to fry.

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Now it’s time to fry the schnitzel! What you want to do is set the heat on 350 degrees and fry it for about 6-7 minutes.

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I hope learning how to make the German Schnitzel was easy for you! For german sides to go with the schnitzel click here.

Here is  a german song to go with you delicious schnitzel!
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, “Schnitzel Boogie

German Cooking for the American Woman: Aschermittwoch

About  30% of the German population is Catholic and celebrate Ash Wednesday.  They have the same cultural practices as many other Catholics around the world, including eating fish on Ash Wednesday.

The Germans celebrate carnival activities before Ash Wednesday. The time before Lent most people take it as the last opportunity to drink, eat and have a good time. In the United States we call it Mardi Gras.

Als Clowns verkleidete Jecken feiern am Montag (04.02...

A common trait around Ash Wednesday is the celebration of Carnival in costumes.

Here is a German recipe for the American Woman that can be enjoyed on Ash Wednesday.

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Curry Rice with Fried Fish

Ingredients:
2 frozen fish fillets
1/4 onion
1 red bell pepper
1/2 medium hot peppers (if you like your curry spicy!)
1 clove of garlic
8 cherry tomatoes
2 stalks of celery
1 cup of rice
1 cup of curry soup
1 cup white wine (optional)
A pinch of curry powder
Salt and pepper

Directions:
Heat olive oil in a pan. While the oil is heating put about 3 cups of water in a pot and wait till it boils. Fry the fish fillets on both sides in the pan of oil. Cut up the 1/4 of onion into small pieces and add it to the pan of oil and fish. Once the pot of water has come to a boil add 1 cup of rice. Then sear the rice in the curry soup you choose. Cut the vegetables small and add to the pan of oil and then close the lid. Now, add the curry powder, salt and pepper. Stir the rice again and again in the pan with all of the other ingredients. This is the time to add more soup and white wine as you choose. Finally, pour a little water into the mix and you are ready to eat!

For more German fish recipes for the Catholic holiday you can visit this website.

German Cooking for the American Woman

Kartoffelpuffer

German recipe for the American woman! Today I’m going to attempt the potato pancake and give feedback and helpful hints that will make the process easy and yummy.

First thing is first, ingredients:
2 eggs
2 tbsps all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
6 potatoes
½ cup finely chopped onion(optional)
¼ cup vegetable oil (for skillet)

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In a bowl combine all the ingredients listed above. While combining heat a large skillet with ¼ cup vegetable oil. Pour 1/3 cup potato mixture flattening the potato like a pancake and fry until golden on both sides. Take the pancake off and drain on a paper towel like you’re cooking bacon and keep warm in 100 degree oven.

Can be served with applesauce, sour cream, or ketchup! Enjoy!

For more potato recipes refer to http://www.germanfoodguide.com/kartoffel.cfm